Things They Carried: Albany Area Soldiers in Vietnam is presented in conjunction with The Big Read, a citywide communal reading of Vietnam Veteran Tim O’Brian’s acclaimed 1990 book, The Things They Carried, a collection of interrelated short stories drawn from memories of his service in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War, the longest conflict fought by the United States in the twentieth century began in March 1965 and ended ten years later in April 1975 with more than 58,250 lives lost. This special exhibition features twenty-five objects carried daily by Vietnam-era soldiers. Included are U.S. Army Government issued uniform and boots, boonie hat, and non-operational weapons such as an M-14 rifle, M-16 Armalite assault rifle, M-60 machine gun, and grenades loaned by the Tri-County Council Vietnam Era Veterans. Four models made by Mike Plonka represent scenes of military maneuvers and duties of American soldiers in Vietnam. Items on loan from Robert Allyn, including, a box of C-Rations with canned food, toilet paper, and cigarettes, a survival kit, first aid instructions, helmet, navigational computer, Laotian and Vietnamese currency, military payment certificates, and a blood chit portray an intimate picture of daily life faced by many soldiers.
Robert Allyn, a poet, woodcarver, and former director of the New York State Vietnam Memorial, served in the US Air Force from 1967 through 1971. He was assigned to the 315th Air Commando Wing, 12th Special Operations Squadron in 1968 as a loadmaster, navigator, and medic.